This weekend's NYXL Pop-Up is a Smash event worth watching

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Last weekend’s Don’t Park On The Grass 2018 was the final tournament of the Melee Panda Global Rankings’ eligibility period, signaling the beginning of a de facto off-season for the Super Smash Bros. Melee scene—a much-needed opportunity for top players to take a break from their busy travel schedules. But for diehard Melee heads, there’s still plenty of Smash to be played in 2018. If you’re hoping to spectate some high-level Melee this weekend, look no further than the NYXL Pop-Up.

A collaboration between Nebulous Gaming, Even Matchup Gaming, and the Overwatch League’s New York Excelsior, the event will take place on Saturday, December 22, at the New York Excelsior’s Shop & LAN in downtown Brooklyn. With a $1,000 pot bonus, the 96-entrant Melee bracket features a long list of local powerhouses including James “Swedish Delight” Liu, Ryan “La Luna” Coker-Welch, Cody “iBDW” Schwab, and Alex “Captain Smuckers” Cottrell, alongside out-of-region visitors such as Hugo “HugS” Gonzalez and New England’s up-and-comer David “Kalvar” Coyne. Since the tournament’s results will likely have no impact on the year-end rankings, the NYXL Pop-Up event is an opportunity for these top Melee players to cut loose—or to try out new strategies for the new year.

The event will also play host to a Smash Ultimate bracket, giving viewers an opportunity to see top players from the Melee and Smash 4 scenes face off in the recently released Smash sequel. HugS, who disqualified himself from Melee at Don’t Park On The Grass in order to focus on Smash Ultimate, will be competing (using Simon or Richter Belmont) in this weekend’s Smash Ultimate bracket, and Swedish Delight and La Luna are also registered to compete in the new game.

These intrepid invaders from the Melee scene will be competing against Panda Global Ranked Smash 4 players such as Gavin “Tweek” Dempsey, Samuel “Dabuz” Buzby, and Nairoby “Nairo” Quezada. All three of these competitors were ranked within the top 10 of the PGR 100—the all-time competitive Smash 4 rankings—and are sure to take the tournament seriously in order to establish early dominance.

The NYXL Pop-Up is also notable as a collaboration between an Overwatch League team and two prominent Super Smash Bros. organizations. Overwatch and Smash are very different esports for a variety of reasons: one is nearly twenty years old, while the other is relatively new; one is a fighter, while the other is a first-person shooter; one’s infrastructure is largely grassroots, while the other is primarily funded by the game’s developer. The fact that such disparate scenes have connected in under the banner of esports is evidence that a partnership with the Overwatch League is one opportunity for Melee to expand after a year in which the platform fighter’s growth has plateaued.

This isn’t the first Smash event to go down at the NYXL pop-up shop; commentator and tournament organizer Max “Max Ketchum” Krchmar hosted a Smash Ultimate launch event at the venue on December 7. This event featured a small Smash Ultimate bracket and likely formed the inspiration for this weekend’s larger tournament.

Whether you’re hoping to watch Melee players cross over to Smash Ultimate, see Smash players compete in an Overwatch League setting, or just spectate some good old-fashioned Melee, the NYXL Pop-Up is this weekend’s Smash event to watch! Catch all of Saturday’s action on the New York Excelsior’s Twitch channel—and if you’re a tri-state resident interested in visiting the NYXL pop-up shop, consider attending this event, as Saturday is the last day that the shop will be open.